RYDER, Dudley, Visct. Sandon (1798-1882), of 39 Grovesnor Square, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 19 May 1798, 1st s. of Dudley Ryder†, 1st earl of Harrowby, and Lady Susan Leveson Gower, da. of Granville Leveson Gower, 1st mq. of Stafford; bro. of Hon. Granville Dudley Ryder*. educ. by Mrs. Braidwood, Hackney 1803-6; by Rev. Hooker, Rottingdean 1806; by Rev. Cross at Latton, nr. Harlow 1807-9; by John Thelwall at 1 Bedford Place, Mdx. 1809; by Rev. Gilbert Beresford at Trowbridge, later at Aylstone, nr. Leicester 1810-15; Christ Church, Oxf. 1816. m. 15 Sept. 1823, at Berne, Lady Frances Stuart, da. of John Stuart†, 1st mq. of Bute, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da. d.v.p. suc. fa. as 2nd earl of Harrowby 26 Dec. 1847; KG 28 June 1859. d. 19 Nov. 1882.
Sec. to bd. of control Dec. 1830-May 1831; commr. for building new churches 1845; ecclesiastical commr. 1847-80; PC 31 Mar. 1855; chanc. of duchy of Lancaster Mar.-Dec. 1855; ld. privy seal Dec. 1855-Feb. 1858.
Lt. Staffs. militia 1819, capt. 1826.
Sandon, who came from a prominent Tory family, was briefly tutored by the radical John Thelwall, of whom he recalled that ‘he did not try to make us revolutionists, but we read much English history ... and he gave us a stout Whiggish tendency in regard to it ... I am still in English history a Whig’. His liberal Tory proclivities were reflected in his friendships at Oxford with the future Whig Members Edward Smith Stanley and Henry Labouchere.1 He was still an undergraduate when he was returned for Tiverton on his father’s interest, and he was again returned unopposed in 1820 with his uncle Richard Ryder.2 He attended occasionally to support Lord Liverpool’s ministry, in which his father was lord president, but he is not known to have spoken in debate in this Parliament. He divided against economies in revenue collection, 4 July 1820. He appears to have been inactive in 1821. He voted against more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He voted against inquiries into Irish tithes, 19 June, and the conduct of the lord advocate in relation to the Scottish press, 25 June 1822. In January 1823 he wrote to his father from Rome expressing regret that his absence might have prevented him from being appointed Canning’s foreign office under-secretary, ‘a situation I should have liked particularly, as being one of much and regular occupation’.3 He divided against the motion for information on Catholic office-holders, 19 Feb., and reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb., and for the usury laws repeal bill, 27 Feb. 1824. According to Canning, he went ‘astray’ by absenting himself from the division on the aliens bill, 2 Apr. 1824.4 He appears to have been in Italy throughout the 1825 session, although at one point he was packed and ready to return to support Catholic relief, until his father notified him that he was not needed.5 He voted to receive the report on the salary of the president of the board of trade, 10 Apr., and against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr., and Lord John Russell’s resolutions to curb electoral bribery, 26 May 1826. Russell identified him at this time as one of a group of industrious young Members, including Smith Stanley, John Evelyn Denison and John Stuart Wortley, who ‘really attend to questions and give themselves trouble’.6 He was again returned unopposed for Tiverton at the general election that summer.7
He divided for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. In his maiden speech, 23 Mar., he supported the spring guns bill, observing that landowners who wished to enjoy such an ‘expensive and fatal luxury’ should employ more gamekeepers. He denied that supporters of Catholic relief who had joined Canning’s ministry, such as his father, had abandoned their principles, 25 May, arguing that while this was not the time to force the issue the new government was more likely than any other to remove the obstacles to a settlement. However, he made what was described as a ‘very reforming speech’ in favour of transferring Penryn’s seats to Manchester and voted against ministers, 28 May.8 He voted for the grant to improve water communications in Canada, 12 June. He supported the Coventry magistracy bill, 18 June, as proof had been given of the ‘vice of the system’ as well as of individuals. Whereas his father declined to serve in Lord Goderich’s ministry, Sandon agreed to join it in November 1827 as a lord of the admiralty, an arrangement that was approved by the Whig Lords Lansdowne and Holland, although he admitted that he was ‘only inclined to support [it] through dread of the worse consequences that might arise from the possession of power by [its] adversaries’.9 His appointment had not been gazetted when the government collapsed, however, and he made it clear that he would not fill the same position in the duke of Wellington’s ministry, explaining that ‘in the present confusion of political parties I ... should be ... unwilling to find myself engaged to any particular course, and shall be glad to put myself completely at liberty to ... vote as occasion may arise’.10 Edward Littleton* advised Peel, the new leader of the Commons, that ‘the most important party’ in the House consisted of ‘a few young men’, including Sandon, Stuart Wortley and Lord Eliot, who ‘hang much together, and who though having different party connections [are] all united ... against high Tory principles’.11 He voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., described them as ‘one of the greatest scandals which ever disgraced’ the statute book, 18 Mar., and opposed Lord Mandeville’s Trinitarian amendment to the proposed new oath, 2 May 1828. He divided for Catholic claims, 12 May. He voted against extending the East Retford franchise to Bassetlaw freeholders, 21 Mar., and supported the transfer of its seats to Birmingham, 19 May, when his pressure on Huskisson to back this contributed to the latter’s departure from the government.12 He presented a Tiverton petition against the concurrent jurisdiction clause in the alehouses licensing bill, 28 Apr., supported the second reading in the hope that changes would be made in committee, 21 May, and spoke against the objectionable clause, which was rejected, 19 June. He said that his favourable impression of the additional churches bill had been ‘considerably weakened’ by the arguments he had heard against it, and advised that it be considered by a committee, 30 June. He divided with ministers against reducing the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July. He voted for the corporate funds bill, 10 July 1828. He was generally reckoned at this time to be a member of the Canningite or Huskisson party. In January 1829 he wrote to Denison that he suspected Wellington was personally ‘well disposed to the Catholic question’, but was prevented from acting by the obstacles in his way, notably ‘the embarrassment as to the choice of materials for ... reconstruction’ of the cabinet. He believed the duke had ‘behaved too ill’ towards the Huskissonites for them to rejoin his government, and speculated on a union between Wellington and ‘Lord Grey and a few friends’, cemented by ‘common hostility to Canning and his memory’. He lamented the weak and disorganized state of the Huskissonites, observing of Huskisson, ‘who can trust his judgement as a leader, even if his honesty be not doubted?’; and he urged the need for a ‘clear and strong’ line to be taken on the Catholic question.13 He voted for emancipation, 6, 30 Mar., and condemned the clause relating to members of Catholic monastic orders as ‘hostile to the principles of our free constitution’, 24 Mar. He welcomed the Irish franchise bill, 26 Mar., arguing that the 40s. freeholders had abused their privilege and that many freeholds had been created by absentee landlords for political purposes, and he hoped it would encourage landlords to reside on their estates so that property might ‘regain its due influence’. He called for Catholic emancipation to be extended to the colonies, 6 Apr., and supported the Maynooth grant, 22 May. He seconded Stuart Wortley’s motion for a game laws amendment bill, 17 Feb. He approved of the bishops’ leases bill, which would ‘relieve [them] from a habit of gambling, inconsistent with the nature of their employment’, 2 Apr. He voted to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 May, and to reduce the grant for the marble arch sculpture, 25 May. In June 1829 Wellington reportedly considered him for a vacant lordship of the admiralty, despite Mrs. Arbuthnot’s complaint that he was a ‘rank Canningite’.14
Sandon was absent from the opening of the 1830 session, but he wrote to Denison deploring the Huskissonites’ hostile action against the government on the address, from which he could see no ‘practical honest result’, as it raised further barriers to their taking office with Wellington at a time when the formation of a ‘mixed government’ with the Whigs would be resisted by the king and the Lords. Shortly after his arrival in London he reported to his father that the political temperature had cooled, but there was still ‘a good deal of discontent at the levity with which, both in public and private, the ministers ... have treated the general distress’. He regretted the recent conduct of his ‘friends’ and explained his own position:
I sit at present near them, but not with them, and generally contrive to get [Sir Thomas Dyke] Acland to keep me company. I must be governed by circumstances for my own conduct, and should be much inclined to rally round the government on any attack dangerous to their existence, but to be rigorous on points of economy and free from all ties on ordinary occasions. Certainly the unpleasant part of the present government is its general motley composition and deficiency of talent equal to the times. It is however our only resource, so that we must be content, and I have no doubt it will do a great many excellent things.15
He divided against Lord Blandford’s reform motion, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., although this caused him ‘considerable embarrassment’ as the object was ‘very highly desirable’. He maintained that any measure of reform should contain ‘some principle of self-limitation’, in order to prevent endless claims for similar treatment, and he proposed a ‘middle course’ by reviving Russell’s old resolution that in all cases where boroughs were disfranchised for corruption their seats should be transferred to an unrepresented town or a large county; this was negatived. According to a Whig Member, his plan pleased neither the reformers nor the ministry, and ‘between the two he had a fall, which everybody but himself foresaw’.16 He voted again to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 Mar. From this point he seems to have participated more wholeheartedly in opposition attacks on the government. He voted to restrict the grant for the volunteers, 9 Mar., and inquire into a revision of taxation, 25 Mar., demanded inquiry into the grant for repairs to Windsor Castle, 3 May, and voted for retrenchment in the consular service, 7, 11 June. He condemned the government’s conduct of foreign policy and was a minority teller for Lord Palmerston’s motion regarding interference in the affairs of Portugal, 10 Mar. He denounced the affair at Terceira as ‘a foul blot ... upon our national character’, 28 Apr. He voted for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr. He approved of the ministerial plan to defray the cost of administering justice in Canada, 29 Apr., but seconded Labouchere’s resolutions regarding the civil government of that colony, 25 May, declaring that they were based on principles that had ‘become so much axioms in the science of politics as to have been long since placed ... beyond dispute’; he was a minority teller. He opposed any reduction in the grant for erecting churches in the West Indies, 10 May, and argued that the grant to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels in the colonies should not be ended immediately, 14 June. He voted for reform of the divorce laws, 3 June, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June. He maintained that the labourers’ wages bill was ‘equally defensible upon the soundest principles of commerce and of common sense’, 1 July 1830. At the ensuing general election he was again returned unopposed for Tiverton, with his brother Granville Ryder.
The ministry regarded him as a member of the ‘Huskisson party’. He presented an anti-slavery petition from Sandon, 11 Nov. 1830. Next day he advised his father of the ‘altered feeling’ in the country with regard to reform, which was ‘no longer the cry of the turbulent and disaffected’ but extended to ‘the most sober and peaceable classes’, and of his belief that ‘the current is too strong to be permanently resisted and ... early concession is better and more effective than late’. He divided against ministers in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov., although one Tory Member noted that he ‘did not seem to imagine ... it would lead to [their] resignation’. Nevertheless, he told his father that he welcomed their departure, as ‘nothing is so bad as a government that does not make itself respected in such times as these’.17 He was offered a position in Lord Grey’s ministry, and was reassured on the subject of reform in an interview with the premier, whom he found to be ‘decidedly against any such change as should insulate one House from the other or destroy that influence which enabled the three powers to move together’. He was satisfied that ‘if something must be done, I believe it could not be trusted to firmer or more aristocratic hands’. He expressed a ‘decided preference’ for the proposed secretaryship to the India board (which he took), in view of the ‘higher and more interesting topics’ which it involved, felt alarm at the suggestion that he might become secretary at war, ‘from the prominence of the situation and the strangeness of the subject’, and would have been content to become clerk of the ordnance, for ‘although the subject is as dry ... as can be ... I hope not to stay in it long and can easily move from that ... to something more in my own way’.18 He was named to the select committee on the East India Company, 4 Feb., and said he saw no reason for maintaining the excessive emoluments in the Indian supreme court, 17 Mar. 1831. He welcomed the ‘more liberal tone’ adopted in the government’s Canada bill, 18 Feb. In the debate on secondary punishments, 17 Mar., he held that solitary confinement was often ‘productive of the best consequences’ and that ‘short punishments’ generally had ‘a wholesome effect upon the mind, whereas longer ones render it perfectly callous or indifferent’. He supported the truck abolition bill, 12 Apr., arguing that Parliament was bound to protect labourers who felt themselves to be ‘the slaves of their employers’. He observed that ‘many wise men have considered the ballot destructive of public liberty’, 28 Feb., and divided for the second reading of the government’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. Two days earlier he had informed Grey that his support for the bill had alienated many of the corporation electors at Tiverton and that he would not be re-elected. It was impossible for him to ‘fight an expensive and uncertain battle’ in an open seat, given his father’s ‘decided disapprobation of the present measure’, and he was unwilling to accept one from the government, as this would form ‘an additional tie’ when he ‘already ... felt the discomfort of being fettered ... in the discussion of this ... vital question’. He therefore concluded that since he could not give a ‘thorough approbation of the whole measure as it now stands’, he should resign, a decision which he confirmed, 28 Apr. 1831.19
Sandon was out of the House until October 1831, when he was returned for Liverpool at a by-election, defeating a radical reformer with support from ‘a singular mixture of ultra and moderate Tories, Whigs and moderate reformers’. He advocated the abolition of nomination boroughs, the enfranchisement of large towns and ‘a liberal extension of the ... franchise founded on a combined consideration of property, education and numbers’, but warned that the reintroduced reform bill contained ‘considerable errors’ and hoped ministers would make concessions in order to obtain a satisfactory settlement.20 That autumn his father voted against the bill’s second reading in the Lords and became a leader of the Tory ‘Waverers’ trying to effect a compromise, and Sandon entered into a lengthy correspondence with the Irish secretary Smith Stanley in a bid to promote that object. His kinsman Lord Wharncliffe, the other leading ‘Waverer’, learned that he had ‘quite come to his senses ... since he was at Liverpool and that ... his opinions were now almost exactly the same as Harrowby’s and mine’. Russell was privately adverse, however, to one of his suggestions, that borough residents should be excluded from county elections.21 On the address, 7 Dec., Sandon repeated his call for a compromise, which he believed the Lords desired, and expressed approval of the government’s policy towards Holland and Belgium. He commended the ‘spirit of conciliation’ shown in the revised reform bill, 12 Dec., particularly the removal of population as the sole criterion for disfranchisement and the preservation of freemen’s voting rights, and hoped that a settlement could be reached without creating peers to effect it. A Whig observer thought that while ‘this young lad’s observations were more amicable to us than before ... the tone was far from cordial and the praise he gave the bill, such as it was, seemed wrong from him’.22 He divided for the second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and to go into committee, 20 Jan. 1832, when he welcomed the decision to adhere to the figure of 56 boroughs for schedule A. However, he criticized the proposal to include 30 boroughs in schedule B, 23 Jan., arguing that ‘the free elections of moderately sized county towns ... influenced by the calm, enlightened and virtuous feelings of ... the little aristocracy of such places’ was ‘a most desirable element in our new representation’, and that he would be ‘sorry to see the whole House consist entirely of representatives of large popular bodies exercising ... a constant vigilant superintendence over every vote and action of their representatives’. He voted for the unsuccessful amendment to enfranchise £10 ratepayers, 3 Feb., but sided with ministers that day against raising the qualification in large boroughs to £15, and voted for the registration clause, 8 Feb. He divided against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., as he objected to the ‘increased artificial preponderance of the metropolis over the remoter parts of the empire’ and to a precedent ‘involving the necessity of continual change’. He voted against the enfranchisement of Gateshead, 5 Mar., believing Merthyr Tydvil had a better claim. He divided for the third reading, 22 Mar. He initially approved of Lord Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only a government committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May, although he felt it had been unnecessary for ministers to resign, but he later explained that he could not support the motion if it was understood to endorse the advice to create new peers; he therefore ‘left the House without voting’.23 He thought the constitutional crisis had ‘arisen from misunderstanding and not from intention’ and that the Lords meant to carry ‘the whole of the essential parts of the bill’, 14 May. He endorsed the substitution of Lichfield for Walsall as the nomination place for South Staffordshire, 22 June, as it was ‘naturally the agricultural capital’ of the constituency. He voted for Alexander Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 27 June. He could not understand why the counties were omitted from the scope of the bribery bill, 6 Aug. 1832.
At a government meeting to settle the membership of the select committee on Irish tithes, 12 Dec. 1831, Lord Althorp, the leader of the Commons, objected to Sandon, as he ‘always tried to steer a middle course and was full of crotchets’.24 He condemned the conduct of Irish Members in encouraging resistance to the payment of tithes, 2 Apr., and expressed surprise at the opposition to the composition bill from Irish landlords when their English counterparts wanted a similar measure, 2 Aug. 1832. He presented a Liverpool petition against the plan for Irish education and argued that ‘conciliation ... is only another word for collision’, 16 Mar.; he divided against the education grant, 23 July. He presented a Liverpool corporation petition against the general register bill, 24 Jan., but hoped it could be amended, 2 Feb., and was named to the committee on it, 22 Feb. He intervened in defence of the corporation with regard to the Liverpool revenue buildings bill, 8 Feb. He pressed the government to ‘proceed to ulterior measures’ if the Brazilians did not immediately pay compensation for the seizure of British vessels, many of which came from Liverpool, 28 Feb., and again, 16 Apr., observing that there was a wider problem of inadequate protection for British property in the ‘half-constituted’ states of South America to which the British government showed ‘peculiar tenderness’. He promised unrelenting opposition to the Liverpool franchise bill, 24 May, and moved its rejection, 4 July, claiming that it would inflict ‘private injustice’ on innocent freemen; it was later withdrawn.25 He welcomed the proposed reductions in the customs duties, 15 June, and spoke on details of interest to his constituents, 25 July. He divided with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 20 July, when he criticized those Members who ‘on the eve of an election, and under the guise of economy, advocate an absolute breach of the national faith’. He warned that the motion for papers regarding Portugal was effectively a ‘vote of censure’, 9 Feb., and declared that he was ‘still inclined to repose my faith in the good intentions of ministers’. He condemned the ‘outrage upon national independence’ committed by Russia against Poland, 18 Apr., said that Britain must protest to ‘liberate our own honour from any participation in the guilt’, 28 June, and feared that a conflict was ‘fast approaching between the democratic and despotic states of Europe’, 7 Aug. He reluctantly voted against ministers for reduction of the sugar duties, 7 Mar., as urgent action was needed to save the West India interest from ruin. He welcomed their measures to assist the planters, 23 Mar., but protested at the ‘reckless’ language of anti-slavery campaigners, which was ‘calculated to sow the seeds of discord and tumult’. He acknowledged that slavery was ‘a condition vicious in its source and origin’ and ‘productive of great evil both to slave and master’, 24 May, but argued that ameliorative measures were required before abolition could take place. He applauded the proposal to issue exchequer bills for the relief of the West Indies, 29 June. He presented a Liverpool petition against the immediate abolition of slavery, 27 July, and urged Members to await the report of the select committee before pledging themselves to their constituents. He opposed the withdrawal of the grant for the civil establishment in Sierra Leone, 23 July, arguing that ‘we have now the chance of gradually transforming the colony into a native state’ and that ‘if we abandon it, the barbarians will again take possession ... and put an end to all hopes of the civilization of Africa being effected through that colony’. He mentioned an expedition being organized ‘by parties with whom I am closely connected, to penetrate into the interior of Africa by means of steam’, which he hoped would help to facilitate this object. He supported a select committee on Sabbath observance (to which he was appointed), 3 July, although he recognized the need to balance the ‘interests of religion and morality’ against ‘improper interference with the recreations of the poor’. He doubted whether there was a serious agricultural depression and did not consider ‘the condition of the working classes ... so bad as is generally supposed’, 27 July 1832.
Sandon had returned to the Conservative fold before the general election in December 1832, when he was returned for Liverpool in second place with support from the West India interest and the freemen voters. He was ‘opposed to the ballot’ and the immediate abolition of slavery and ‘in favour of throwing open the trade to China’.26 He declined Peel’s offer of the colonial under-secretaryship in 1835, thinking it ‘incompatible with his position at Liverpool’, and was prevented from accepting the presidency of the board of trade in 1845 by the strength of his constituents’ feeling against the Maynooth grant.27 He retired from the Commons in 1847, and later that year inherited his father’s title and landed properties and the residue of his personal estate, which was sworn under £60,000.28 Having reluctantly supported repeal of the corn laws he temporarily gravitated to the Liberals and took office in Palmerston’s first ministry, but he later rejoined the Conservatives. One female friend wrote that ‘there is no one whose character is so delightful to people of all sects and ages. There is a simplicity about him quite peculiar to himself and his opinions on all grave subjects are so fixed and earnest and yet so moderate’. Anthony Panizzi, the librarian at the British Museum, who knew him as ‘an excellent friend and supporter of [London] University’, believed he was ‘very honest and independent in his opinions’. Henry Goulburn* had ‘never [seen] anyone to whom I have naturally a greater liking and respect’, but Smith Stanley, while acknowledging that he was ‘the cleverest of his contemporaries’, thought this was ‘ruined by his indecision’.29 He died in November 1882 and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son Dudley Ryder (1831-1900), Conservative Member for Lichfield, 1856-9, and Liverpool, 1868-82, and then by his other son, Henry Ryder (1836-1900).
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Terry Jenkins
- 1. Harrowby mss, ‘Reminiscences by Dudley, 2nd earl of Harrowby’, 7.
- 2. Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, 9 Mar. 1820.
- 3. Harrowby mss, Sandon to Harrowby, 25 Jan. 1823.
- 4. Harewood mss, Canning to wife, 4 Apr. 1824.
- 5. Add. 52011, E. Fazakerley to H.E. Fox, 21 Feb.; 52015, Lord D. Stuart to Fox, 26 June 1825.
- 6. Add. 51789, Russell to Lady Holland, 26 Mar. 1826.
- 7. Alfred, 20 June 1826.
- 8. Canning’s Ministry, 317.<